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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama-McCain 2nd Presidential Debate Tonight at 9 PM - Live Blogging

George Wenschhof

Check your local listings to see the cable channels airing the debate in addition to CNN and MSNBC beginning at 9:00 PM ET.

Tonight, the debate will be moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw and held at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Although, a town hall debate by name, the debate rules negotiated and agreed to by both campaigns are designed to prevent any free wheeling.

As I mentioned in my earlier post today, Brokaw will select questions from 100-150 likely to vote uncommitted voters who were chosen by Gallup to be representative of the country. No follow up questions are permitted by the moderator or the questioner. Nor is either candidate allowed to ask each other a direct question. They will also both have circles delineated they must stay within if they stand up and walk around. This, as a result of Gore walking up to Bush and "invading" his space in a 2000 presidential debate.

So, it will be interesting to see what questions will be asked. The McCain campaign, showing signs of desperation, four weeks from Election Day, has been bombarding Obama with negative personal attacks. This is similar to what the Clinton campaign also did when they fell behind in the Democratic primary.

See if a question is asked about William Ayers, Reverend Wright, or Antoin Resko. If not, look to see McCain try to bring it up while answering another question. Also expect the standard themes from McCain answers to include Obama does not admit the surge worked in Iraq, Obama's position on diplomatic talks is dangerous, and of course, I can keep you and your family safe. McCain has to hope a question about his involvement with Charles Keating in the Saving and Loans failures and subsequent government bail out is not brought up.

Meanwhile the Dow dropped 508.39 today to close at 9,447.11. This is the lowest close since September 30, 2003. Also consumer borrowing fell for the first time since January 1998. Look to see Obama bring up the McCain statement about it is time to turn the page on the economy - Obama will say McCain is out of ideas, out of touch, and running out of time.

In addition to the economy, which is the number one concern for voters, and foreign policy, look to see the candidates spell out their differences on health care, energy, and education.

I'll begin live-blogging here a little before 9:00 PM ET. Ok, I'm back and it is about five minutes before the start of the debate. Lets see how it goes. It appears to be a small crowd (80) seated around in a circular manner where the candidates will sit (or stand).
Brokaw - first question - questioner: what is the fastest way to bail out people from this economy? Obama - a result of failed policies of the last eight years of the Bush administration. Bail out bill just a first step. - tax cuts for the middle class, fix energy system. McCain - our job is to fix the problem - energy independence, keep taxes low, stop spending spree in Washington. Brokaw - who would you replace Treasury Secretary Paulson with? McCain - someone like Meg Whitman. Obama - Warren Buffet-glad McCain agrees - important thing is to eliminate trickle down theory.
next question - bail out program - what does it do to help people out? McCain - left campaign to suspend it to go to Washington - accuses Obama and his cronies of creating this problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. two of his biggest campaign contributors. Obama- credit markets are frozen- small businesses unable to make payroll - we shouldn't have been here in the first place. let me correct McCain - biggest problem is deregulation - McCain wanted to continue deregulation. by the way, let me point out, McCain's campaign manager was a lobbyist for Fannie Mae - ouch! McCain lost this one.
next question - how can we trust either one of you with our money when both party's got us into this mess - Obama - I understand - a lot of blame to go around - when Bush came into office we had a surplus - we now have a 500B deficit, we had a 5 trillion debt, it is now doubled. I am proposing a net spending cut. McCain- system in Washington is broken - I have a record of bipartisanship. Obama has voted for every increase in spending in Congress - you need to look at our records.
Obama hammers McCain on the Bush tax cuts. Internet question - what sacrifices will you ask Americans for to get us out of this economic morass we are in? McCain - eliminate earmarks, would propose an across the board spending freeze. Obama - people are hungry for leadership, how we use energy, clean coal technology- we need to provide incentives to help you be more efficient. Young people want to serve - i want to double the Peace Corps.
Obama - disagree with an across the board spending freeze proposed by McCain - he wants to use a hatchet, i want to use a scalpel.
Internet question - Brokaw amended question - will you reform social security and medicare within two years? Obama - want to do this but will not probably be able to do so in two years. Obama - tax cuts for everyone making $250,000 or less, including small businesses. McCain wants to give a 300 billion tax cut to the highest income earner - we need to end the practices of the last eight years.
McCain - fixing social security is not that tough - need bipartisan approach - medicare - have congress vote up or down. Did McCain actually say anything here? Best days are ahead of us.
Next question - Congress moved fast in economic crisis - how about the environment and green jobs? McCain - proposes nuclear power. Obama - one of the biggest challenges of our time, can create 5 million new jobs as the computer led the economy. Investments in wind, solar, and explore nuclear. He points out McCain voted against alternative fuels 23 times while he has been in office. We can't simply drill ourselves out of this problem.
next question - should health care treated as a commodity? Obama - we have a moral and economic imperative to fix this problem. We will even offer a reduction to your employer of up to 2500. McCain will offer you a 5000 tax credit but begin taxing you benefits - wrong way to go. The US chamber of commerce spoke out against this today. McCain - put health care records online - talks up his 5000 health care credit uses a very wierd example of hair plugs - a dig on Biden?
Obama, health care should be a right of every American - if you have a health care plan, you can keep it. We do require children be covered. McCain voted against S-CHIP which would ensure children had insurance.
next question - how will recent economic stress effect our foreign policy? McCain, Obama wrong on the surge in Iraq, etc. Obama, there are some things I don't understand - why did we invade Iraq who had nothing to do with 9/11 while we let the terrorists in Afghanistan flee to Pakistan? Lets talk about the money spent every day in Iraq and the fact we do not have the resources available to deal with situations like Darfur.
Use of force when national issues are not at stake - Obama - ethnic cleansing, genocide, where possible - we can not be everywhere at all times. McCain - criticizes Obama on his position on Iraq and a withdraw timetable. Brings our troops home in victory not in defeat.
next question - should US respect Pakistan sovereignty or pursue our enemies. Obama - we were distracted by the invasion of Iraq. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are stronger than ever in this region. Encourage democracy in Pakistan but insist they go after the militants and if we need to act, we will. McCain - trying to give a history lesson on Afghanistan and criticizing Obama. Obama -never called for an invasion of Pakistan - it was McCain who sang bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran. We need to act responsibly.
McCain is actually starting to babble on this issue without making any sense - maybe it is getting late. After a few minutes of nonsense, he is back to Obama not realizes the surge worked. Huh?
next question - cold war and Russia - McCain - we need to advocate for membership of Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, need Russia to understand aggression in Georgia is not acceptable. Obama - on the most part I agree with McCain - we also need to help them rebuild their economies. We also need to anticipate these situations so we can keep you safe instead of being reactive.
Brokaw - Russia a evil empire? Obama-they have acted evil. McCain - maybe.
next question - Israel - if Iran attacks Israel would you commit troops to Israel or wait for UN action? McCain - we would not wait for UN action. Hare we go with McCain criticizing Obama for being willing to have diplomatic talks. Obama - we can not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon - he would do everything to prevent it. it is important to use all tools to prevent this from happening, including diplomatic talks, we should do so.
Last question - What don't you know and how will you learn it? - Obama - my wife Michelle can answer this question better than me. He then goes into the American dream and how we need to get back there. we need fundamental change and that is why I decided to run for President.
McCain- what we don't know is what is going to happen at home and abroad. I know what its like to have hope in tough times. I believe in this country and I am asking Americans to give me this opportunity. The debate is over.
Well, debate number 2 of 3 is over. A game changer? Doubtful. This was hardly a true town hall setting and the heavy scripted rules were evident throughout. McCain is who needed a big win and I would doubt the polls will show this. Obama came across Presidential and more in control. The first presidential debate I called a draw and the polls said Obama won handily. This one I give the advantage to Obama. Let's see what the polls say about this one. The campaign teams are now in overdrive putting out their spin - Let's also see what they say. Stay Tuned.

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